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How to use songs in a movie? Lessons from Edgar Wright

I am a big fan of Edgar Wright. When I first saw “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”, I was blown by the way it was made. The concept, the visuals, the cast – everything fell right in place. But, back then, I never knew that the movie was directed by Edgar Wright. I liked the movie and I kept telling my friends about it. I noticed it recently when I saw the trailer of his latest movie “Baby Driver”. The trailer was fresh. It featured an amazing soundtrack, crazy cuts, and an awesome sound design. When the movie released a couple of weeks back, I ran to the movies without second thought.

 

 

 

The entire movie is driven by music. If you ask me “Is it a musical?” I would say it is. But, you won’t feel like watching one. The songs intertwine with the scene in such a way that you can’t visualize a scene if you take out the song. A good example would be the opening scene where Edgar Wright introduces Baby’s character to the audience. The scene starts with him parking the car in front of the bank. He turns on his iPod and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms” starts playing. For the next five minutes you will be amazed to see how every beat of the song perfectly syncs with the visuals. At the end of the song you will wonder how much time did Edgar Wright and his team would’ve put to bring out such amazing visuals.

 

 

The first six minutes of the movie sets an expectation of what you can expect for the rest of the movie. And, “Baby Driver” completely fulfills your expectation. Everything about the movie is fresh. Especially the characterization of Baby; His habit of timing a getaway with a song, his iPod collection which he chooses from according to his mood, his little mix tape experiments, will not fail to impress you.

Instead of filming the movie first and choosing the songs later, Edgar Wright chose the songs and wrote the script in accordance with them. This is not the first time he’s done it. He is known for making the best use of songs. Another good example would be “Shaun of the Dead” where he uses Queen’s “Don’t stop me now” during a Zombie fight. The whole scene is brilliant and hilarious. This way of film making is really hard to pull off, but Edgar Wright always does it.

 

 

If you’re an aspiring film maker, you can learn a lot from Edgar Wright. Especially the art of bringing every element of film making into a scene and make them fit right in. Remove any one of the elements and the scene loses its value. His scenes bring out the perfect orchestration of story, screenplay, cast, cinematography, editing, soundtrack, and sound design. Looking forward for more such wonderful movies from him.

P.S.: After coming out of the movie “Baby Driver”, I’d badly wanted to drive like Baby. But, as I was amidst other cars on one of the busiest roads in Chennai, all I could do was shift to gear one and angrily honk at other cars.

 

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